Was massacre much larger than earlier reported?
Compass Direct, a news service focusing on religious persecution issues, issued a stunning report this week by Obed Minchakpu in Jos, Nigeria. While reports last month noted the destruction of four churches torched by Muslim youths, Minchakpu reports that the violence continued. The final death toll, he reports is 1,500 Christians, including eight pastors. He also reports that 173 churches, not four, were destroyed in the violence, which spread into multiple states. Tens of thousands of others have been displaced by the violence.

Compass's main source was quoted by Nigerian newspapers, but their articles do not include most of the staggering figures. However, on at least one figure, the Nigerian media's numbers are higher than those of Compass. The Daily Times of Nigeria says that at least 60,000 people were displaced by the violence; Compass puts the number at "about 50,000." Still, Weblog hasn't found any media references to 1,500 Christian deaths. Any help from readers who monitor Nigeria?

In any case, while The Daily Times hopefully wrote, "60,000 displaced as Plateau clashes end," violence continues. Accusing a Christian youth ("suspected to be insane," says the Vanguard newspaper of Lagos) of desecrating a copy of the Qur'an, a Muslim mob on Saturday went on a fresh rampage. They destroyed 10 churches.

Sam Kujiyat, vice chairman of the Kaduna branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria, told Reuters that "foreign-funded Islamic extremism" was behind the attack. "We want to alert both the federal and state government that terrorists, hiding under religion, have invaded Kaduna state," he said at a press briefing. "Unless something urgent is done to identify and fish them out, what is happening in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Spain may be lurking around the corner."

"There is nothing to worry about," Kaduna State Commissioner of Police Muhammed Yesufu told Vanguard. "No life was lost."

Right. Absolutely nothing to worry about.

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More religious violence:

  • Iraqi Christians fear Muslim wrath | Some Iraqi Chaldean Christians say they fear that militants will attack churches in Baghdad on Easter Sunday (The Washington Times)

  • Treasured churches in a cycle of revenge | "Kishe kaput; very good," said the smiling boy, using an incongruous mix of Albanian, German and English to describe the remains of St. Nicholas, Pristina's only working Serbian Orthodox church. Next to him the four walls of the church were smoldering (The New York Times)

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Religious anti-violence:

  • Detroit holds anti-violence prayer session | The city held a day of prayer Monday in response to a wave of violence that has killed more than 100 people this year, with the mayor asking "the greatest power we all know" to help end the bloodshed (Associated Press)

  • Looking for strength | Faced with a deadly rash of violence, Detroit officers join in day of prayer (Detroit Free Press)


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Minister suicide:


  • Snag in Atlanta church reforms | Women who held posts key to compliance say their criticism got them the ax (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Church said to settle with 4 in Shanley suit | Four alleged sexual abuse victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, a priest at the center of the national scandal in the Catholic church, reached financial settlements with the Boston Archdiocese Sunday for an undisclosed amount, their attorneys said yesterday (The Boston Globe)

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  • 4 men settle with Boston archdiocese | Lawyer says one to get record payment (The Washington Post)

  • Former Orange County priest gets 6-month sentence for molestation | Ex-cleric, who spent 17 years in local diocese, admitted to groping teen while in her family's car (Los Angeles Times)

  • Victims oppose release of Porter | Testimony is heard in state bid to keep ex-priest locked up (The Boston Globe)

  • Deal claim disputed in Lutheran sex case | As a jury was picked Monday, a dispute arose outside the courtroom over whether a settlement had been reached with two of the three major defendants in a sexual abuse lawsuit filed by 14 victims of a former Lutheran pastor (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)

  • Lutheran officials under fire | Jurors took less than 15 minutes last year to convict former Lutheran minister Gerald Patrick Thomas Jr. of sexually assaulting boys, then sentenced him to 397 years behind bars. Now the question is whether the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its agencies should have done more to stop him (Associated Press)

  • Selection of jury starts in Lutheran sexual abuse case | Jury selection began Monday in a civil case involving 14 victims of a Lutheran pastor who allege Evangelical Lutheran Church in America agencies gave a known molester what amounted to a license to prey on young boys (Associated Press)

  • Abuse counselors reach out to Arab women | The goal is to aid victims by providing therapists who speak Arabic and people who understand a culture in which the family's honor depends on the chastity of the women and sexual crime is spoken of in whispers, if at all (Chicago Tribune)

Louisville Courier-Journal series on dwindling churches:

  • Empty pulpits | A special section (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Ranks of pastors dwindling | Many Protestant churches are struggling to find and keep pastors … The number of clergy under age 35 has dropped … Smaller churches are turning to lay pastors and other new models of leadership (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • The changing face of the clergy | Today, the average ordination age for an Episcopal priest is 44, with an influx of midlife career changers entering the ministry (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • New focus put on recruiting, retention (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Role of spouses reshaped | As dual-income families become more common in society, the role of the pastor's spouse has been changing as well (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

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  • Catholics turn more to lay ministry | A critical shortage of priests leads parishes to find other resources, but they're only a partial answer (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

Religion and politics:

  • Not liberal and not conservative, just Christian | The Church is stupid and morally slack if we ever let ourselves get co-opted by liberals or conservatives. We have our own story to tell. (James C. Howell, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  • Apocalyptic president? | How the left's fear of a right-wing Christian conspiracy gets George W. Bush—and today's evangelical Christians—all wrong (Alan Jacobs, The Boston Globe)

  • Study gauges 9/11 effect on U.S. Muslims | Interest in religion, politics deepens (Chicago Tribune)

  • Who knows hearts, minds of voters? | Who are you? It's a question worth asking in a week that saw the Legislature give the first of two required approvals to a "compromise" constitutional amendment that would establish civil unions for gays but ban them from marrying (Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe)

  • ACDP: DA policy not Christian | The African Christian Democratic Party has accused the Democratic Alliance of pushing policies that are "not in line with Christian principles", or at least those espoused by the ACDP (News24, South Africa)

  • Ryan: 'I'm better if I'm in a church' | Every day, at some point, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Jack Ryan can be found in one of the back pews of a church, praying (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • 'I have a deep faith' | Senate candidate Barack Obama doesn't believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell. But he's not sure if he'll be going to heaven, either (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • 'We're sent here to help others' | Sen. Dick Durbin, 59, is not a pious man. While he's been a Roman Catholic all his life, he's doesn't express himself in religious language with any ease. It's not his way (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Rival ministers group counters Nagin opponents | Clergy should fight killings, they say (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

  • The Democrats' new ally in Alabama | Say it loud and say it proud: Roy Moore for president (Diane Roberts, St. Petersburg Times, Ala.)

  • Columnist, News off on a tour de farce | Sometimes Mike Littwin exhibits his sparkling talent for prose. Other times, he just spills a mean streak, as in "Politicos tuned into far right issues" March 20, 2004 (Shawn Mitchell, Rocky Mountain News, Co.)

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  • Hispanics' varying views yield surprises | A poll commissioned by The Herald shows that Hispanic Americans differ widely on views and values and are not a monolithic target for political parties (The Miami Herald)

John Kerry and the Roman Catholic Church:

  • Catholic Church 'will refuse Kerry Communion' | Senior traditionalists in the Catholic Church are backing a campaign over the Democrat's stance on abortion (The Telegraph, London)

  • On the mend, Kerry goes to church in Boston | Kerry did not speak to the congregation at Charles Street AME Church, but the Rev. Gregory G. Groover recognized him from the pulpit as "the next president of the United States" (Associated Press)

  • Thou shalt not flub thy photo op, Sen. Kerry | Photo ops are the saving grace of many political campaigns, but Bay State Sen. John F. Kerry gaffed one recent opportunity - flouting Catholic doctrine by taking communion at a non-Catholic church (David R. Guarino, Boston Herald)

  • Politics cloud Kerry's Easter plans | If the Roman Catholic senator sticks to his home Boston Archdiocese, he faces the implied threat from Archbishop Sean O'Malley of being refused Communion (The Washington Times)

  • Blame the bishops | If they can't tell the difference between Catholic and Protestant communion, why shouldn't Kerry flout canon law? (George Neumayr, The American Spectator)

  • Kerry's communion controversy | It is unclear where Sen. John Kerry will take communion this Easter Sunday, amid questions of how enthusiastically Catholic leadership will respond to the pro-choice Democratic nominee (CBS News)

  • Kerry invokes God | Kerry's brave move to sink to Bush's level may still backfire (Marina Hyde, The Guardian, London)

  • Kerry dismisses critics of time that he took off campaigning | Kerry became combative when told that some conservatives were criticizing him for being a Roman Catholic who supported policies, like abortion rights and same-sex unions, that are at odds with Catholic teaching (The New York Times)

  • Holy, holy fisking | John Kerry's errant preaching (Scott Belliveau, National Review Online)

  • Begging for rebuke | John Kerry's dubious Catholicism (Carson Holloway, National Review Online)

Church and state:

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  • Pledge pleadings | If we are not "one nation under God," what are we? (Tom Bray, The Washington Times)

  • Reference to Christianity gaining support, says Poland | According to Jan Truszczynski, Polish deputy minister for foreign affairs, around 10 countries from the future 25, support a reference to Christian values and tradition in the preamble of the Constitution (EU Observer)

  • Monument parts congregations | Duluth's faith community is at odds over the City Hall Ten Commandments monument as some residents feel extreme views have dominated the issue (Duluth News Tribune, Minn.)

  • City accepts 'peace pole' | Huntington Beach rejects concerns that gift would violate separation of church and state (Los Angeles Times)

Church and state ruling in Japan:


  • Abortion doctors wary of new law | Some say wording taxes their nerves (The Boston Globe)

  • California city must allow antiabortion signs | Federal judge issues preliminary injunction, saying protesters have First Amendment right to place large, stationary signs on sidewalk outside Riverside clinic (Associated Press)

  • Doctor: Fetuses feel pain after 20 weeks | type of abortion banned under a new federal law would cause "severe and excruciating" pain to 20-week-old fetuses, a medical expert on pain testified Tuesday (Associated Press)

  • Unsafe abortions' toll | Abortion is legal in at least some circumstances in every country in the world but two: Chile and El Salvador. And yet 70,000 women die of unsafe abortions every year, according to the World Health Organization (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  • Feds open defense in abortion lawsuit | The U.S. government began defending a federal ban on a certain type of abortion by calling doctors who testified that the procedure has not been studied enough to determine whether it is safe or medically justified (Associated Press)

  • Judge quizzes doctor on abortion details | A doctor testifying at a trial to decide if a new abortion law is constitutional said abortion procedures in the United States are so safe that a woman faces more danger continuing a pregnancy than ending it (Associated Press)

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  • The abortion question | Portugal offers sobering lessons for Americans who, like President Bush, aim to overturn Roe v. Wade (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times)

Abortion in the U.K.:

  • My abortion and my baby | Julia Black had a termination at 21, and never questioned her pro-choice beliefs … until she fell pregnant at 34. In this frank dispatch from both sides of the debate, she asks if it is possible to disentangle facts from emotions (The Observer, London)

  • Is this what we meant by women's right to choose? | Women should have the right to choose, but it ought to be an informed choice, and too often it is not. The easy provision of abortion, like the provision of condoms to teenagers, with the underlying message that there is no great issue at stake here, anything goes, is wrong (Alice Miles, The Times, London)

  • Yes, I am pro-abortion | We don't need more sympathy or understanding - we need to be tougher-minded and more rigorous, both on ourselves, and with each other (Zoe Williams, The Guardian, London)

  • Channel 4 to screen graphic film of abortion | Program to show banned images of dead fetuses (The Observer, London)

  • Too many abortions | We have not seen the film, but we welcome it on the grounds that it is likely to highlight something that should now be evident to all shades of opinion in this debate: there are too many abortions in this country (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)

Life ethics:

  • It's life, but not as God planned it | Attempts to create synthetic life in a laboratory are no longer science fiction (The Guardian, London)

  • Boost for banks of stem cells | Many hospitals in Massachusetts and other states have been neglecting an easily accessible source of stem cells with minimal ethical issues—umbilical cords of newborn babies—which have already proven their therapeutic value (Robert Pozen and Robert Langer, The Boston Globe)

  • Calif. court rules on fetal-murder law | The state Supreme Court strengthened California's fetal-murder law Monday, declaring that the killing of a pregnant woman counts as two homicides even if the perpetrator was unaware the victim was pregnant (Associated Press)

  • States are wrestling with stem-cell issues | Legislators debate whether to fund, prohibit research (Chicago Tribune)

Holy Week:

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  • Missionaries will find pain precedes unity | During this Holy Week and beyond, expect more death (Ruth Ann Dailey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Christians spread unity message | As Easter approaches Sunday, believers ranging from Methodists to Episcopalians will gather all week as part of the Jackson Area Ministerial Association's inter-denominational observance of one of the holiest weeks in Christianity (Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  • Palm Sunday parade saved by aptly named stand-in | For the second consecutive year, congregants from cathedrals and storefront churches of the South Bronx gathered in McKinley Square to hand out palm fronds and parade through the neighborhood, re-enacting the biblical passage in which Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem and is met by throngs of followers bearing palms (The New York Times)

  • City pastor shares a vision of gospels | "Jesus in the City" is the Rev. Chris Emerson's kinder, gentler take on Christ's Passion. No blood, no gore, no live animals. No one gets beaten with a strap, nailed to a cross, crucified or buried (The Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.)

  • Events mark holiest of weeks | Week between Palm Sunday and Easter full of local services and events (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)

  • Worshipping as one | Though hundreds of parishioners walked in a long line down Third Street in Geneva Sunday morning, they worshipped as one (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • Call to pilgrimage | Egan urges unity on Palm Sunday (New York Daily News)

  • The true meaning of Lent |There is an inextricable link between suffering and transfiguration (Rob Marshall, The Guardian, London)

Maundy Thursday:

  • Bishop refuses to throw in the towels | A bishop says he will ignore health concerns among cathedral officials and use the same towel to wash the feet of 12 worshippers in the traditional Maundy Thursday ritual (The Telegraph, London)

  • Women excluded from Atlanta foot washing | In a letter to the archdiocese's priests, Archbishop John Donoghue said only 12 men at each parish should be selected for the ritual, which represents Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper (Associated Press)

  • Foot-washing edict divides local Catholics | Priests, parishioners and theologians said they were puzzled and angry over the decision to exclude women and children (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Catholics to protest exclusion | Women can't officially have their feet washed at Holy Thursday services in Roman Catholic churches in Atlanta, but several plan to air their voices at a protest instead (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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  • Bugs Bunny and the meaning of Easter | Every Easter morning, at first light, my mother would wake up the kids and commence the difficult task of getting us ready for church (David Silva, News-Press, Glendale, Ca.)

  • Resident offended by dumb blonde Christian joke | Elizabeth Cook was not amused last week by a dumb blonde joke about the meaning of Easter that she found in a senior citizen's newsletter at the local library (The Providence Journal, R.I.)


Passion plays:

  • Participants put soul, passion into play | The Purcellville Passion Play was first staged at Franklin Park by youths from the community center on Palm Sunday 1987 (The Washington Post)

  • A passion play draws crowds—and no blood | Despite an approach opposite Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" — or maybe because of it — the gore-free "The Glory of Easter" at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove is experiencing the most popular season in its 21-year history. (Los Angeles Times)

Jewish/Christian relations:

  • The road to understanding for Christians, Jews | As we Christians and Jews celebrate Passover and Easter this year we might take a moment to pray that understanding among Christians and Jews continues to grow, so that generations to come shall not be enslaved by hostility and ignorance and instead find new life in friendship and understanding (Robert Leikind and Philip A. Cunningham, The Boston Globe)

  • Christians and Jews united in prayer on Good Friday | We have never received so much mail over anything. The movie The Passion of The Christ has had every Jewish defense agency and rabbinical organization on overload for weeks (Donna Schaper and Mitchell Chefitz, The Miami Herald)

  • For Jews and Christians, a season of faith | The week we've all been waiting for is finally here (Ken Garfield, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

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  • Jewish official starts Christian outreach | It was another tough conversation for David Elcott, whose job is full of them these days. Speaking to a group of Christian clergy over a chicken dinner, he tried to explain why many of his fellow Jews don't trust them (Associated Press)

  • Poll: More now believe Jews killed Jesus | The percentage of Americans who believe Jews were responsible for killing Jesus has grown in recent years, although it remains a view held by a minority of people, according to a poll released Friday (Associated Press)

Holy Land:

  • Archbishop: Christian pilgrimages to Holy Land vital for peace | The Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, Archbishop Michel Sabbah, has urged Christian pilgrims to continue coming to the Holy Land (Voice of America)

  • Pilgrims in Jerusalem follow Jesus' steps | About 3,000 local Christians and foreign pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem for the traditional Palm Sunday march, which believers say retraces the path Jesus took when he entered the city before his arrest, trial and crucifixion (Associated Press)

  • Top clergyman calls for Mideast 'reason' | The top Roman Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land on Monday urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders "to come back to reason," saying the area has plunged into bloody madness (Associated Press)

The Passion:

  • The gospel according to Mel | An interview with Benedict Fitzgerald, co-writer with Gibson of the script for The Passion of The Christ (Variety)

  • 'Passion' film changes church services, plays | Both could be more realistic, graphic here this season (Ventura County Star, Ca.)

  • 'Passion' draws worldwide praise, outrage | An Islamic leader says it reveals Jewish "crimes." European Jewish leaders are troubled by it. Israeli theaters don't plan to show it. "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's crucifixion epic, is moving into cinemas around the world, and into the international tempests whipped up by terrorism, war and clashing religions (Associated Press)

  • Easter focuses 'Passion' message | Go see "The Passion of the Christ." That's the message that churches in the District, Maryland and Virginia are sending their parishioners and others this Easter to increase focus on Christ's death and Resurrection (The Washington Times)

  • Mel Gibson's movie inspires more passion in church plays | The film is helping local actors infuse their roles with more passion. And local directors are hoping that the film's success will translate into larger crowds at their productions (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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  • DeMille's commandment: Honor thy dancing girls | No one challenges "The Passion of the Christ" by advocating a return to the old days, when a Mary Magdalene clothed in little more than a headdress would set off in a chariot to meet her savior, having first ordered her servants to "Harness my zebras" (The New York Times)

  • New testament to genius: Turner's 'Cecil B. DeMille' | In his early years he actually made intimate, artful comedies and dramas, but after the success of "The King of Kings," DeMille became best known for grandiose religious epics—stories taken from the Bible yet filmed according to a formula DeMille perfected: "sex, sadism and lurid melodrama" (The Washington Post)

  • 'Gospel' aims for that old-time religion, but where's the passion? | "The Gospel of John" is to "The Passion of the Christ" as tap water is to parboiled sacramental wine (The Boston Globe)


  • Study finds more religion coverage on TV | The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts did 303 stories on religion during the 12 months that ended March 1, compared with 121 stories during a one-year period in 1993, the Media Research Center said (Associated Press)

  • Dispassionate documentaries seek truth of Jesus | ABC, Fox News and the History Channel, among others, have planned documentaries about Jesus that seek to capitalize on the extraordinary popularity of Mr. Gibson's polemical film, while setting the record straight on who killed Jesus (The New York Times)

  • ABC gives religious saga prime time | Bringing a reporter's eye to biblical stories is Peter Jennings' passion. ABC is taking the extraordinary step of devoting all three hours of prime time Monday to Jennings' latest religious saga, "Jesus and Paul: The Word and the Witness" (Associated Press)

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  • Reverend uses 'Simpsons' to teach gospel | Churchgoers at All Saints Church in Kesgrave, northeast of London, have been invited to attend four classes from the end of April on each of the four main family members — Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa (Associated Press)

  • TV linked to kids' attention problems | Researchers have found that every hour preschoolers watch television each day boosts their chances — by about 10 percent — of developing attention deficit problems later in life (Associated Press)

  • A good 'Word' for Peter | Jennings' special is a testament to fine documentary-making (David Bianculli, New York Daily News)

  • Priests condemn sex on reality TV | Romanian priests are campaigning across the Balkan country to convince believers not to watch a popular reality TV show that has broadcast live sex, Romanian media said on Thursday (Reuters)




  • Beholding Byzantium | We are so used to the word 'iconic" that we forget how forceful the stylization of actual icons can be (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • Cathedral fury over topless model | A webpage photograph featuring a topless model being "crucified" outside Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral has been criticized (BBC)

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  • Taking religious liberties | Karen Armstrong, former nun turned religious scholar and author, is big on compassion, but she isn't interested in lazy theology — or the afterlife (The New York Times Magazine)

  • She's found her calling | Former nun Karen Armstrong has achieved success as a popular theology writer and commentator. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Countering the counterculture | Michael Shermer reviews Mark Oppenheimer's Knocking on Heaven's Door: American Religion in the Age of Counterculture (Los Angeles Times)

  • Return of Christ novel seen as next Jesus blockbuster | Seen the movie about Jesus' death? Now read the book about his return (Reuters)

  • The Holy Beach-Towel hypothesis | Diarmaid MacCulloch finds the shabby reality of the Crusades in accounts from Thomas Asbridge and Jonathan Phillips (The Guardian, London)

Missions & ministry:

  • County homeless shelters can't find homes | Plan to extend a winter program through the summer months results in a frustrating search (Los Angeles Times)

  • The ultimate forgiveness | To err is human, to forgive divine—to befriend someone who took the life of a loved one is another matter. What motivates people whose empathy seems to know no bounds? (Vince Beiser, Los Angeles Times Magazine)

  • Surfer shares story of life after shark attack | Tom Hamilton was waiting for knee surgery when doctors burst in to say they would need the room to operate on a young girl who had just been bitten by a shark. He knew they were talking about his daughter(Contra Costa Times, Ca.)

  • Christian group launches major evangelism thrust | The Errol Rattray Evangelistic Association is working with over 500 churches to stage six citywide crusades and a number of conferences and special events throughout Jamaica (The Jamaica Observer)

  • Harrison woman ministers to Iraqis | Norma Newman of Harrison recently returned from a dangerous Christian medical mission trip to war-torn Iraq with a message of hope and promise (Ozarks Newsstand)

  • 60,000 attend Franklin Graham festival | 260 area churches sponsor Bakersfield event (KERO, Bakersfield, Ca.)

  • Minister preaches hope amid turmoil | A turning point in Freddy Tuyizere's life came several years ago when he was working as a teacher in his native Burundi. Eight of his students were killed by a grenade lobbed into their boarding school (The Columbian, Wa.)

  • Straight by choice | Thousands use 'reparative therapy' in an effort to change their lives (Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)

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Teen Reach:

  • Teen Reach probe continues | State officials seeking legal action against the organization (The Arizona Republic)

  • Earlier: Group defends treatment of teens in recovery | Members of a controversial evangelical Christian group rallied around their pastor Friday as he accused state officials of abducting eight young church members and depriving them of their religious liberties (The Arizona Daily Star)


  • Secular schools are switching to Anglicanism to fulfil parental demand for 'Christian values' | Record numbers of secondary schools are "converting" and becoming Church of England schools to fulfil parental demand for Christian values and better discipline. Since 2002, eight previously secular schools have become Church schools and three more will convert this year (The Telegraph, London)

  • Learning to practice what we preach | Before we insist on the rule of law in Baghdad, how about Westminster? (Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times)

  • Milwaukee voucher program hit by scandal | One school that received millions of dollars through the nation's oldest and largest voucher program was founded by a convicted rapist. Another school reportedly entertained kids with Monopoly while cashing $330,000 in tuition checks for hundreds of no-show students (Associated Press)

  • Who is Catholic? | New conservative colleges say existing institutions lead students away from the true faith (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

  • Secular college victory for atheist schoolgirl | Pupil's policeman father fights human rights case over cost of transport (The Observer, London)

  • Judge sends Cobb evolution issue to trial | Suit says stickers in text promote a religious view (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Ga. school-evolution debate goes to trial | A federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit against a school district's practice of posting disclaimers inside science textbooks saying evolution is "a theory, not a fact" (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: Evolution flap aided education, state official says | Georgia teachers are in a stronger position to explain evolution as a result of the public furor over the attempt to remove it from the state's proposed science standards, the state science coordinator said (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

School dean firing upsets parents:

  • Rants make ND 'faithful' seem weak | As for the heart of the hullabaloo at Notre Dame High School, I'm as befuddled as most of you (Phil Luciano, Peoria Journal-Star, Ill.)

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  • Pope to ping the faithful | Verizon Wireless is launching a new cell phone service in the United States on Wednesday that will allow subscribers to receive messages from the Pope (CNet News.com)

  • Vatican: number of priests up slightly | The Congregation for the Clergy said the number of priests dropped significantly in North America and Europe between 1961 and 2001, but that decline was offset by an even larger increase in Asia, Africa and Central America during that period (Associated Press)

  • Sex abuse audits on hold | Leaders of Catholic bishops defer decision on 2nd round (The Washington Post)

  • Roman Catholic bishop detained in northern China | Chinese state security police have arrested a 69-year-old Roman Catholic bishop in northern China, only weeks after the state constitution was amended to protect human rights, a US-based rights group said (AFP)

  • Why I love apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary | Celebrities make appearances, but the Blessed Virgin Mary does apparitions (Paul May, The Guardian, London)

  • Exhibit features crucifixion relics | A number of documented relics from Christ's crucifixion, including small pieces of Christ's cross, the crown of thorns and the burial shroud, are on display at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center (WTOP, D.C.)

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  • Pope talks with U.S. bishops on scandal | Pope John Paul II told U.S. bishops Friday that the clergy sex abuse scandal can be a renewing "moment of hope" for the church in the United States despite "outspoken hostility" from many of the faithful (Associated Press)

  • Archbishop says American society hostile for Catholics | Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley said American culture is inhospitable to Roman Catholic teaching, and likened preaching to Americans to a form of martyrdom (Associated Press)

Church life:

  • Africa's top Anglican warns U.S. church | The spokesman for bishops who claim leadership of a majority of the world's Anglican Christians denounced the gay-rights policies of America's Episcopal Church on Saturday, following a two-day caucus in Atlanta with U.S. conservatives (Associated Press)

  • Church advocates financial empowerment of members | the General Overseer of Sceptre Christian Congregation, Evangelist Emeka Ohia, says this was not the time to experience poverty, but the age to embrace the wisdom of God, which has the blessing of wealth in it (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)

  • Minority pastors preach diversity | Clergy of color help expand horizons of white churches (The Washington Post)

  • Church givers vs. church goers | Here's one way that God-fearing politicians in Congress can increase church attendance: eliminate or sharply reduce tax breaks for charitable contributions (Richard Morin, The Washington Post)

  • Pastor won't be silent on war | The Rev. Frederick Boyle, who sparked deep discord among his congregants at two churches following his outspoken criticism of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, said he won't silence his social and political voice to accommodate parishioners who don't share his views (The Times, Trenton, N.J.)

  • The peacemaker and Sunday School teacher of Plains | "We had 12,739 visitors last year," confirms Maranatha Baptist Church pastor, Dr. Daniel Ariail. "In addition to our 131 church members." (The Tullahoma News, Tenn.)

  • Baptists look to refocus congregations during conference at Union | Is there a future for Baptist identity? (Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  • Fury as churchyards bar the dead | Families face extra bills as some vicars are accused of saying they're full to save money (The Observer, London)

  • Queen's Royal Deeside chaplain quits for new role | The Rev Bob Sloan, the Queen's chaplain on Royal Deeside, is to quit one of the most prestigious Kirk appointments in a surprise move to take on a new role within the Church of Scotland (The Scotsman)

  • Church risks being 'boring': Carnley | The church risked becoming irrelevant and boring to many people and needed to modernize the Christian message, the leader of Australia's Anglicans said in his Easter message today (The Australian)

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11th Commandment:

  • This is positively the new commandment | "Thou shalt not be negative" might seem a contradiction in terms, but the Methodist Church hath decreed that, henceforth, this shall be the Eleventh Commandment (The Times, London)

  • Eleventh commandment brought down - from pub | The first 10 were said to be carved out on tablets of stone before Moses—but a new eleventh commandment was simply sent by text message from a pub, the Methodist Church revealed today (PA, U.K.)

Church buildings:

  • Cottonwood deal is headed back to court | Los Alamitos sues Cypress over traffic fears if Costco, church build off Katella Avenue (Los Angeles Times)

  • Churches popping up in unusual places | Hotels, theaters, storefronts, and other sites become houses of worship (The Enterprise, Brockton, Mass.)

  • Houses could replace Clayton seminary | The seminary has been the focus of 30 years of failed plans to convert it to a military boarding school, a college, an international boarding school, an Eastern meditation center, a drug rehabilitation center and an evangelical temple (Contra Costa Times, Ca.)

  • The soul of colonial Quito | Grandeur—magnificent churches, striking architecture—and gritty reality coexist in the heart of the Ecuadorian capital (Los Angeles Times)


  • Mormon leader: Church gaining respect | The Mormon church is gaining respect and converts, its president said Saturday at the semiannual conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Associated Press)

  • Civil spring | The presence of 50 uniformed and plainclothes officers enforcing the city's new demonstration zones outside the LDS Church's Conference Center kept the protesters and conference-goers apart and peaceful. And the stoic tolerance of the thousands of attendees in the face of vitriolic harangues helped (Editorial, The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • Conferencegoers greeted by some friendly demonstrators | About 80 evangelical Christians from the group Standing Together took up posts at this weekend's LDS Conference in Salt Lake City, offering a different, more gentle approach to proselytizing than the sign-wielding, scorn-spouting street preachers who chastised Latter-day Saints for their beliefs and proclaimed that they would be cast into hell (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • LDS protesters out in force | Evangelical street preachers managed to skirt Salt Lake City's new speech regulations Saturday, sermonizing and taunting LDS Church conferencegoers from just outside reserved protest zones (The Salt Lake Tribune)

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  • 160 years later, Illinois ready to offer Mormons an apology | Providing further evidence that this is an apologetic age, an odd delegation of local politicians—a Chicago alderman, a state representative, an Appellate Court judge and the lieutenant governor—traveled Tuesday to Utah to deliver official regret for the 1840s persecution of Mormons in Illinois (Chicago Tribune)


  • Under God and over | What America can learn from its atheists (Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic)

  • Among the non-believers | The strange career of atheism in America (Alan Wolfe, The New Republic, sub. req'd.)

  • 'God bless atheism' | It is only in dialogue with others that our faith is tested, our ideas made explicit, our errors corrected (E. J. Dionne Jr, The Washington Post)


  • Diversity suit loss for cable titan | Judge backs AT&T Broadband worker fired for refusal to value others' beliefs (The Denver Post)

  • Worker opposed to gays wins suit | An AT&T Broadband employee who was fired after refusing to abide by company rules that he said violated his religious beliefs about homosexuality has won a federal court case (The Washington Times)

  • Man wins discrimination suit against AT&T | A federal judge has awarded nearly $150,000 to a Denver-area man fired by AT&T Broadband for refusing to sign a diversity policy requiring him to "value" the beliefs of others, including gays (Associated Press)


  • The return of the ring | Welfare-reform should include marriage promotion (Melissa Pardue & Robert Rector, National Review Online)

  • Amending Maggie Gallagher | She's still wrong about Orrin Hatch's proposal (Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review Online)

  • Marriage Savers' counties speed divorce rate dip | Divorce rates are falling faster in U.S. counties that have a program in which clergy offer premarital counseling and other marital-support services than those without the program, says a study released yesterday (The Washington Times)

  • Priests pour holy oil on town | Evangelicals and Catholics unite in Jundiai against hate and divorces (Ananova)

  • Anyone can marry: just don't ask me | What is it about the institution of marriage that makes heterosexuals guard it so jealously? (Zoe Heller, The Telegraph, London)

Gay marriage:

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  • Speaking out against gay marriage | Two bishops lead Catholics marching in North Beach (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Agencies prepare for gay spouses | State agencies have launched preparations for the likelihood that gay couples will marry in Massachusetts, reviewing rules on insurance, retirement benefits, tax filings, and even lottery winnings to determine what must be changed if the Supreme Judicial Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage goes into effect May 17 (The Boston Globe)

  • Poll: Massachusetts split on gay marriage | The University of Massachusetts survey found that 47 percent of those asked backed the state constitutional proposal, while 47 percent opposed it (Associated Press)

  • 2,000 evangelicals rally against gay marriages | Evangelical Christians convened at a church in San Jose Sunday to rally against city leaders' recent decision to support same-sex marriages, while outside, gay and lesbian activists gathered in a small counter-protest (Mercury News, San Jose, Ca.)

  • Wanting more | With their Vermont civil unions unrecognized here, local couples support the push for gay marriage (Newsday)

  • Minnesota poll: 58% say they'd ban gay marriage | They are split, though, on whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed so-called "civil unions" to give them some of the legal rights of married couples (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Evangelist rallies Oregon pastors to fight against same-sex marriage | In a talk at a Clackamas church, James Dobson says the debate is a key battle in a war of values (The Oregonian)

  • Gay marriage as a domino | Do you think sanctioning gay marriage could lead to legalizing polygamy as well? Religious leaders respond (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

  • Inventing a marriage—and a divorce | Gay pair who wed in '70s recall journey uncharted by law (The Washington Post)

  • The 'pros' have it on gay marriage | Thus far in 2004 readers have complained relatively little about the Globe's news coverage of the same-sex marriage debate (Christine Chinlund, The Boston Globe)

  • Poll finds split over marriage amendment | In the first test of public opinion since the lawmakers' historic vote on March 29, the proposed amendment to the state constitution fell short of getting majority support in the poll, with 47 percent backing the measure and 47 opposing it (The Boston Globe)

  • Same-sex union battles on hold | After much activity in recent weeks, the issue of same-sex "marriage" has moved to the sidelines in many states, although only temporarily (The Washington Times)

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  • In Calif., Catholics protest gay marriage | Catholic opponents of same-sex marriage held a prayer march Saturday, criticizing city officials who have licensed thousands of weddings for gay couples and calling for a federal amendment banning the unions (Associated Press)

  • Straight-out truth on gay parents | Children are not harmed when raised by same-sex couples, studies confirm (Brad Sears and Alan Hirsch, Los Angeles Times)

  • Father, son clash on gay marriage issue | These are precarious times for the gay son of state Sen. William J. "Pete" Knight, the arch-conservative architect of California's Defense of Marriage Act (Associated Press)

  • Churches wondering how to approach gay marriage vote | With a question about gay marriage certain to appear on Georgia ballots this fall, clergy are braced for a lot more queries than they get during a typical election (Associated Press)

Blacks and same-sex marriage:

  • Religious right plays the race card | Conservatives courting African Americans for battle against same-sex marriage (Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange.com)

  • Preaching bigotry | A knee-jerk antipathy toward gays and lesbians is rampant in black America, nowhere more evident than in the black church (Cynthia Tucker, The Baltimore Sun)


  • Bedeviled | Modern life is filled with temptations, but the urge to indulge—please put that doughnut down and listen—can be tamed (Roy Rivenburg, Los Angeles Times)

  • Speaker examines 'spiritual violence' | Homosexuality is boring, Rev. Mel White told Monday the near-capacity crowd in the lecture hall of Denison University's Burton D. Morgan Center (Newark Advocate, Oh.)

  • What can never be explained keeps us in relationship with the divine | We hope for what can never be explained because it keeps us in relationship with the divine (Jeanette Leardi, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  • How can I fill this void in my life? | In an age where the spiritual path is not always clear, philosophy may offer a workable alternative to faith - or be the gateway to faith itself (Anna Smyth, The Scotsman)

  • A spiritual oasis | Dedicated to Jesus, Mary and a multitude of Catholic saints, shrines are common sites in some Denver-area neighborhoods, a heartfelt public display of religious devotion (The Denver Post)

Other stories of interest:

  • Couple exposing slavery trade | Milton and Kimberly Smith have devoted several years of their lives, massive energy and put their family's personal safety at risk as they have worked to make a difference in the problem of present-day, worldwide trafficking in sex-driven slavery that involves children (The Clanton Advertiser, Ala.)

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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